820 buses: Court fixes date for ruling on Ambode’s suit against Lagos lawmakers

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An Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court has fixed February 27 for ruling on a suit filed by former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, to challenge the constitutionality of the probe of his administration by the House of Assembly over procurement of 820 buses for public transportation.

Yetunde Adesanya, the judge, fixed the date after hearing the submissions of counsel to Mr Ambode, Tayo Oyetibo, and counsel to the lawmakers, Olukayode Enitan.

Earlier, Mr Oyetibo told the court that the lawmakers should act in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

Last October, the judge had ordered the principal officers of the Assembly to appear before the court.

“The claimant (Ambode) has not come here to say that the lawmakers do not have power of investigation, he is saying that the exercise of that power is subject to the provisions of the Constitution,” said Mr Oyetibo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“He is saying that his rights under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution is violated. His case is that the exercise of that power is subject to the provision of the constitution particularly the right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36.

“Secondly, the court will determine whether the exercise of the power of the House of Assembly is subject to the provisions of the Constitution under Section 128.

“If the court answers the second question in the affirmative, it has the right to ask if those rights have been violated by the House of Assembly,” he said.

Mr Oyetibo said the first three of the six regulatory reliefs sought by Mr Ambode deals with the scope of the powers of the House of Assembly as provided in sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution.

He said the fourth relief challenges the constitutionality of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State 2018.

“We are asking your lordship to determine the validity of the House of Assembly to enact a law or provision that will require the executive to come back to the House cap in hand to seek disbursement of funds approved under the budge.

“The fifth relief is tied to the fourth relief, the lawmakers have been accusing the claimant of breach of budgetary approval, if there is no need for budgetary approval, they cannot accuse him of a breach,” he said.

Mr Oyetibo said the former governor should not wait for his constitutional rights to be infringed upon, he urged the court to dismiss the lawmakers’ objection with substantial costs.

The counsel to the lawmakers, however, challenged the competence and jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit based on three grounds.

“The first ground is that it is ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority) that is the power of the court to interfere with any investigation of the Lagos State House of Assembly or any arm of government based on the principle of separation of powers,” said Mr Enitan.

“The second ground is that the suit is preemptive and premature and not actionable and the third ground is that it discloses no reasonable cause of action.

“I urge the court to decline jurisdiction as this suit is premature,” he said.

Mr Enitan said that rather than accept the invitation to attend the probe which was issued by the House of Assembly, Mr Ambode “rushed” to the court.

“The claimant has not been indicted, he has been invited, come and explain some things to us, he ran to court. I urge the court to dismiss the suit imminently,” he said.


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